Civic innovators gather in Miami to build ideas for successful cities

Photo credit: Tom Clark.

One hundred civic innovators are in Miami through Wednesday examining how to make better cities by exploring ways places can harness talent, advance opportunity and promote robust engagement. Related Links

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Knight Foundation President and CEO Alberto Ibargüen opened the Civic Innovation in Action Studio by acknowledging the “synergy and intellectual energy” that the gathering represented as leaders from multiple fields – from government to the arts to business – assembled “to put things together in some sort of coherence and give people direction.”

Ibargüen said the goal of the studio “is not to come away with prescriptions but to exchange ideas and suggest ways of thinking.”

Author and TV host Steven Johnson delivered a keynote, emphasizing the importance of places in stimulating ideas that move cities and sectors forward. Johnson will develop an innovation hub with the support of Knight Foundation that will focus on making cities better in tandem with his new PBS show, “How We Got to Now,” which debuts in October.  

“On some level every good new idea is a network of ideas,” Johnson said.

He said the studio, which began Monday night with a reception and lasts through Wednesday, is “structured so serendipitous collisions can occur.” The event drew everyone from former Miami mayor Manny Diaz to Molly Turner, director of public policy for AirBnB, to artist Hunter Franks and Deborah Marton, executive director of the New York Restoration Project.

Studio participants divided into three work sessions to explore the core issues of talent, opportunity and engagement, develop ideas and share them in an afternoon “Gallery Walk.” By the end of the day, the teams will report out to the entire studio with their top ideas and receive feedback.

On Wednesday, the teams will craft experiments around the ideas and prepare prototypes to share.

Carol Coletta, Knight’s vice president for community and national initiatives, said the goal is to come out of the studio with experiments that can be tested in Knight communities

Michael D. Bolden is editorial director of Knight Foundation